Citizens are taking back control of their city! WeOwnTheCity looks at the bottom-up initiatives happening right here in Amsterdam.

Report from OFF PICNIC: WeOwnTheCity (ARCAM)...

Opening its doors on Sunday 16 September especially for PICNIC visitors, ARCAM showcased their new exhibit WeOwnTheCity, a photographic and textual record of the emerging urban initiatives in Amsterdam, connecting urban planning research and photography.

Showing the macro-level of urban revitalization in Amsterdam and then honing in on particular neighborhoods and their respective community projects, the exhibit provides an important documentation of citizen projects, photographed by Maarten van Wijk, which connects the PICNIC ‘12 theme of “New Ownership,” as citizens have started initiating projects to make the city their own.

All the projects focus on the unique bottom-up approach: ranging from community gardens and civic spaces to neighborhood social events. The Noorderpark project began when the area’s community center and its residents came together to form a bar/restaurant. Using only recycled, sustainable materials, the project was also unique in using unconventional development strategies, including a variety of funders and keeping an informal organizational structure.

While most projects were strictly initiated by citizens, one of these case studies, Cascoland in de Kolenkitbuurt, involves a collaboration between Stadsdeel West and housing corporations that invited organizations to think of plans to help stimulate the livability for residents. Residents were encouraged to give ideas, such as weekly dinner nights as a community, so that the ultimate project would be a true collaboration.

The exhibit aims to create a debate on the power structures involved in creating urban development initiatives, and the case studies reinforce the idea that the bottom-up approach is an important way to allow citizens a voice. By highlighting the concept of bottom-up and top-down structures working together, WeOwnTheCity provides a guideline for policy makers, governments, and the community stakeholders to adapt to shifting economic systems for urban revitalization.

The exhibit at ARCAM runs until Saturday, October 6.

Location: Prins Hendrikkade 600

Contributed by Joe Mier; image by Ute Brinkmeier




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